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June 14, 2021

Vending gets marijuana dispensary in hot water

The founder of the company that makes the medical marijuana vending machine recently purchased by Purple Cross RX sent a cease-and-desist letter to the local dispensary and has threatened to sue it for harming his company’s image.

Vincent Mehdizadeh, the founder and chief executive officer of Prescription Vending Machines, Inc., said he and the media “have fallen victim” to Purple Cross founder Scott McPhail, whom Mehdizadeh says lied about his involvement with the machine that uses touch-screen technology to distribute marijuana to card-holding patients.

“We’re doing big things on a state level,” Mehdizadeh said. “We can’t be mixed in with a trouble-making dispensary. I had no idea they had trouble with San Benito County. Now it’s a huge mess.”

McPhail got in contact with The Pinnacle and local television stations last week to showcase the MedBox machine that he had purchased and put in the lobby of his dispensary on Bolsa Road. He told the newspaper that he planned to market the machines to pharmacies, medical facilities and other dispensaries throughout the state. A television station reported that McPhail helped create the machine, which is not true.

That prompted Mehdizadeh to contact McPhail and demand that he stop conducting “unauthorized interviews” and offering “misinformation” that is “causing a lot of frustration within my company.”

“This, along with the fact that the clinic you house the machine at is the subject of a lawsuit from San Benito County, is extremely troubling,” Mehdizadeh wrote to McPhail, adding that Purple Cross may continue to use the machine only for demonstration purposes for “prospective interested parties with properly licenses marijuana clinics.”

“I appreciate your enthusiasm for my company’s products,” the letter continued. “However, you may have really damaged my company’s reputation in ways you can’t even begin to understand … Now people will wonder if Purple Cross Rx is owned by Medbox, Inc. or if there is some sort of affiliation, which as you and I well know, there is not.”

In a telephone interview last week, Mehdizadeh said McPhail visited his North Hollywood office three weeks ago and said he wanted “help set up different machines in agricultural land in his area because that’s allowed” in San Benito County. Mehdizadeh said he was not aware, however, that Purple Cross previously had been sued by the City of Hollister and was recently slapped with a lawsuit by the county saying it was operating in defiance of county zoning laws.

“I’ve worked hard with my company to ensure the machines are used appropriately and not ticking off any city or county officials,” he said. “After delivery of the machine last week, a couple of days ago I heard that someone saw the machine on the news. I’m really in control of all my press. I don’t want it to be reported inaccurately. I started doing searches and realized Scott was doing unauthorized interviews without clarifying that he is not the inventor. He said it was the first machine in California at Purple Cross, which is absolutely, categorically false.”

Mehdizadeh said that when he spoke with McPhail about his claims in the newspaper and television stories, “he doesn’t give me a straight answer and says it’ll all blow over in a week.”

After sending the cease-and-desist letter to Purple Cross, Mehdizadeh said McPhail was apologetic.

“He sees the error in what he did, I assume,” Mehdizadeh said. “I think he knew exactly what to say to get publicity. He was very vague. You’re asking the right questions and he’s giving the wrong answers.”

Mehdizadeh said his company plans to sue Purple Cross within the next couple of weeks “in order to show the county that we are absolutely not supporting someone that is giving them so much trouble.”  He said he has contacted the county counsel “to dissuade them from trying to ban my technology in (San Benito) County, which is what one newscast initially reported.”

McPhail did not immediately respond to interview requests Monday seeking comment on the cease-and-desist letter. The county counsel’s office, which sued Purple Cross last week, was closed Monday in observance of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

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